Tiny Tot and I are riding along in the car, and he asks me to turn on his favorite song, “Everything is Awesome.” He’s picked up from school, the day is bright, the sky is blue, and everything is awesome. So, I find the song on my iTunes, click it on, and start jamming along with my tiny human.
Or, ummm, I sing until Tiny Tot realizes that I am singing.
“Have you heard the news? Everyone’s talking. Life is good, ’cause everything’s awesome. Lost my job? It’s a new opportunity. More free time for my awesome community.”
“I feel more awesome than an awesome possum. Dip my body in chocolate frostin’. Smellin’ like a blossom; everything is awesome.”
“Mommy, stop! Stop singing that part; you’re not allowed,” Tiny Tot yells vehemently from the back seat.
I blink. “I’m not … allowed? To sing the best part of the song? Why?”
Tiny huffs, rolls his eyes like I am missing brain cells, and explains, “Because, Mommy, you’re a girl. This is a boy part. Girls are not allowed to sing boy parts. You can wait till the girl part, and sing then.”
This is not the first time in the past month that I have heard girls have certain rules, while boys have others. But it is the first time the “rules” are projected onto me, the Mother. Because, well, I’m also a girl, and Tiny knows it.
He is in an older classroom, his friends are older, and everyone is getting separated into categories, just like I knew would happen when I wrote Tiny Humans, Gender Roles. Just like in that post, I still do not push for gender recognition. I still have a rough-and-tumble boy who occasionally likes to try on my powder or nail polish. He still loves dressing up, and although most of the time it’s in all things Superhero, when he is at his cousin’s house, he’s everything Elsa.
Until his cousin reminds him that he’s a boy, and Hans should be his preferred outfit of choice … except there isn’t a Hans costume, and he really loves the pretty blue dress.
I mean, who doesn’t? Make one in my size, please! I’m tall with a side of awesome!
The understanding of gender is hitting my household hard and fast. I understand it’s normal, and normal for his age. I mean, I get it. Most of Tiny Tot’s ideologies on gender comes from the world around him: what he sees, what he hears, what he knows, what his friends say, what his family says. He’s getting it from his world, not outside references, so I’m not surprised about it happening. But, I didn’t quite expect everything to be broken down into boy/girl references.
“Here, Mommy. Here’s Poison Ivy. You can play her; she’s a girl.”
Wait, what? I can’t be Batman?
“No, I can’t get these shoes. They have girl colors.”
Heck yea they have girl colors! If it’s pink and sparkles, yes, I want it.
“Mommy, Mommy, Sally Francis and I are playing a game. I’m the bad guy because I’m the boy. She’s the princess because she’s the girl.”
Yes, I am bad; I point out if a bad guy harms the princess, a big, strong prince needs to come along and rescue her. I sometimes feed into gender recognition, it’s true.
“Mommy, you cannot sing the boy parts. You aren’t a boy. You sing the girl parts, okay?”
Wow. Doesn’t my tiny human know I’m an alto, and I sound like a screeching cat being ripped from a burning building when I have to sing the “girl parts?” I prefer the “boy parts;” it’s my thing.
I do tease Tiny about gender differences, now that he’s acknowledging his version of what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a girl. For example, he loves to talk about a little girl named Zoe. She’s his favorite tiny human in school. She and another girl explain how they love to be chased by Tiny around the playground, and are upset when I pick him up early, because he can’t chase them around the park on those days.
Tiny Tot also becomes upset during moments when his pretty little friend is “liked” by another little boy. Which sometimes prompts me to hesitatingly ask, “Do you like Zoe? Do you want her to like you?”
A blog for another day, seeing as I am so not ready for my tiny creation to hold feelings for another girl, especially at his age. Still, I recently moved from tentative questions about his little friend into teasingly calling Zoe his “girlfriend.” I wish I could have gotten that response on camera. His green eyes flashed in astonished embarrassment, and he screamed, “Hey!” at the top of his lungs.
He’s not ready for a girlfriend, and frankly, neither am I.
Still, I’m coming to terms with my tiny human’s remarks about what I’m allowed and not allowed to do, because I’m a “girl,” and what he’s supposed to do, because he’s a “boy.” I am raising a respectable young man, who will have polite manners, but he certainly doesn’t have to remind me when I’m trying to rap my favorite part of a children’s song.
Girls can rap, too.
I’ll either figure out a way to approach this, or let it run its course. For now, I’m thinking the gender recognition is a phase. Kids go through it. I don’t remember going through it as a young girl, because I am one of three sisters. We all played boy and girl roles, and acted both the Barbie and Ken parts. I guess the difference comes in throwing a boy and girl into the same room. Both genders are there to play their separate parts.
Seeing as I’m always with Tiny when we play at home, he will always have a “female” to his “male” role. But, my stance will be the same as it was before: children have their whole lives to be defined by the various roles thrust upon them. For now, his role is being a little boy who goes to school, loves his family, and minds his momma.
He’ll grow from boy to man, and take on that role when the time comes. He’ll learn what it means to be a male in society, and at some point I will be the push behind him being a strong leader. That time will come. For now, though, I’m okay with him being a little boy, learning to recognize differences in his world.
… Even if it’s a little weird for me.